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Canterbury Glass - Sacred Scenes And Characters (1968)



In 1968, Canterbury Glass recorded six tracks in London for an album that went unreleased at the time, the group disbanding after interest from a couple record labels fell through. Nearly 40 years later, many of the tapes were rediscovered and issued on this CD. This isn't quite the original album; two of the six tracks couldn't be found, and the "bonus" cut, a demo of one of the two missing songs, apparently bears no resemblance to the version recorded for the album. Still, since all four of the tracks retrieved from the original album sessions last around ten minutes, the CD does offer what would have been a healthy-sized LP by 1968 standards. Unlike many such relics to see the light of day in the CD age, it's not a run-of-the-mill psychedelic outing in terms of either style or quality. With the religious tones of both the music and lyrics (some of which are sung in Latin), it's a little like hearing the Electric Prunes' late-'60s pseudo-religious concept LPs, but as done by a British band whose members were playing it straight, rather than because some producers and arrangers foisted a gimmick upon them. There's a consciously cathedral-music-goes-rock flavor to the proceedings, the standard psychedelic guitar rock being augmented by churchy organ, harpsichord, flute, and male-female choral harmonies. In some respects, the blend resembles psychedelic-early progressive rock crossover bands like Procol Harum and Caravan, the difference being that while those groups used classical-religious influences as a prominent shading, Canterbury Glass employ them as driving forces. While there's an earnest naďveté to the proceedings that might either charm or turn off listeners depending on their tastes, it's also haunting and unusual, and not nearly as explicitly derivative as many such unsigned bands of the era. It's a worthwhile curiosity for those who want to hear what was briefly called "God rock" done with accomplished integrity, though the bluesy demo of "We're Going to Beat It (Battle Hymn)" isn't nearly up to the standards of the rest of the material. ~ Richie Unterberger

A prog rock curio from 1969/1970 , the first rock LP produced by future U2 producer Chris Kimsey, with musical influences from Westminster Cathedral to Caravan.Recording at Olympic Studios in 1969. Mainstays of the band Canterbury Glass, Malcom Ironton and Mike Hall, were Hornsey Art College students, where Pink Floyd developed their experimental light shows. Bids from Polydor , EMI and CBS were played off against each other by the bands manager, who duly lost the lot and the album remained unreleased. (Though it did reach front cover stage, the artwork for which survived and we have it here). A further session track from a Regent Sound session has since been recovered and added to this rather unique package.

Steve Hackett - guitar
Valerie Watson - flute, harmonica
David Dowle - drums

Record Collector - There will certainly be a frisson of excitement among collectors about the appearance of a previously unissued album from a group from the 1967/68 London underground scene. They won’t be disappointed with this interesting effort, complete with its originally planned sleeve. The group of North Londoners, with female flute, harmonica player and singer, had settled themselves in an ambitious furrow, taking in the rise of interest in church-related music, as fuelled at the time by the Missa Luba and the film If. Canterbury Glass worked up the long, multi-sectioned pieces of Kyrie and Gloria, drawing on a wealth of contemporary influences and, in some cases, anticipating some of the later ambitious prog-rock. Though rooted in church music, you hear snatches and elements of the quieter Seeds sounds, some Vanilla Fudge, Caravan and much more, and as such, this is bound to attract a good deal of interest. Prologue includes early guitar work from Steve Hackett, and a previous group demo, We’re Going To Beat It, is added as a bonus to the originally-planned album release. The whole is certainly evocative of the Middle Earth scene in 1968, which is no bad thing.

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